We're leaving for Yurp in a couple of weeks, specifically England, France, and Italy, and I've been procrastinating on doing any real research on what I'd like to visit while in any of those countries. I have to admit a complete and utter dearth of interest in travel destinations which was probably influenced by my inability to leave the continent of North America before I turned thirty. Anyway, I am more interested than I really know and this became apparent when I found out about the catacombs in Paris as the last person on Earth not to know at least something about them other than the parts Victor Hugo wrote about and started digging (ha!) into their history a bit. The fact that they exist in any state at all is pretty amazing to me especially given the circumstances that necessitated their use (churchyard overpopulation and the pollution and the seemingly inevitable spread of disease that follows) and how ridiculously huge the publicly accessible parts are. The majority of the tunnels are off limits and allegedly can run up some huge fines for their exploration which, as always, means that some vicarious exploration is in order.
The best documentation I found was over at Infiltration and was also very funny in parts:
For dinner, they warm tins of duck confit and break out the bread and wine. I offer water and Power Bars. They eye the latter curiously. Jean Baptiste: "Hashish?" I suggest saving them for dessert. And they are Frenchmen. As adamant as they were about pushing on, they savour their dinner and rest time.
and gives you some flavor for the local curiosity about the catacombs and how devoted (read: obsessed) some folks are with finding all of the secrets and mapping out as much of it as possible.
I also dug the virtual tour that another fellow put together. Granted, these are areas that are legal to access but I can't imagine myself getting spelunkered out in rubber gear and boots so this is probably as close to a preview as I'm going to get. Given some of the tight spaces the Infiltration guy had to squeeze through I'm not sure that this is necessarily a bad thing.